Premature Aging: Links to Posture
Healthy posture is important in preventing degenerative disc disease. With progressive breaking down of the tissue between the vertebrae, pain and mobility can be affected. Poor posture can have a lasting impact on a person’s health.
Degenerative Disc Disease
What exactly is degenerative disc disease? The spinal column is comprised of vertebrae, discs and ligaments and tendons connecting everything together. The discs between the vertebrae act as a cushion, promoting flexibility and range of motion. These discs are primarily made of water, and as a body ages, the amount of water decreases. The discs can slip, develop small cracks or bulge depending upon the type of pressure. Any of these misalignments can cause pain. Degenerative disc disease is most common in the cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (low back).
Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
Bulging, herniated or permeated discs can cause painful symptoms. Living with pain can be debilitating. The following may be a sign of discogenic pain:
· sharp pain in a generalized area
· aching pain
· tingling in arms or legs
· limited range of motion
How Posture Contributes to Degenerative Disc Disease
Prolonged sitting without intermittent breaks has been proven to cause changes in disc height. Further, one study looked at yoga practitioners as compared to a control group of asymptomatic non-yoga practitioners. This study found that the yoga group had significantly less degenerative disc disease than the other group. Thus, motion and spinal alignment, coupled with exercise decrease the presence of disc problems as measured with MRI. Conversely, poor posture can contribute to degenerative disc disease. By hunching over, curving the spine or pulling the shoulders in, gradual pressure can be placed upon the spine creating disc issues.
How to Improve Posture
Specific techniques can be used to improve posture. Exercise creates the production of synovial fluid, which acts as an agent that lubricates and helps the joints move more easily. Try the following to improve posture:
· Stretching and twisting of the spine
· Be mindful of posture
· Roll shoulders at least three times a day
· Stand with back against a wall
· Get regular chiropractic adjustments
Closing Thoughts from Dr. Tali
As the body ages, certain conditions arise. Normal wear and tear can cause some degeneration in the discs. Good posture can slow the progression of this degeneration. Our next few articles will focus on exercises to improve posture and protect the integrity of the discs, thereby reducing the risk of posture-related degenerative disc disease.